Robotics researcher Jens Kober has received an ERC Starting Grant from the European Research Council. Kober works as assistant professor at the Cognitive Robotics Department from Delft University of Technology and is associated to TU Delft Robotics Institute and RoboValley.
Kober received the prestigious grant for his project Teaching Robots Interactively. Programming and re-programming robots is extremely time-consuming and expensive, which presents a major bottleneck for new industrial, agricultural, care, and household robot applications. Kober’s goal is to realise a scientific breakthrough in enabling robots to learn how to perform manipulation tasks from few human demonstrations, based on novel interactive machine learning techniques.
“This project will deliver a completely new and better approach”, he states. “Robot learning will no longer rely on initial demonstrations only, but it will effectively use additional user feedback to continuously optimise task performance.”
The laureate is assistant professor in Delft since 2015, where he worked at the Delft Center for Systems and Control, before joining the Cognitive Robotics Department. He was awarded the IEEE-RAS Early Academic Career Award in Robotics and Automation 2018. He completed his PhD in 2012 jointly at the Technische Universität Darmstadt and the Max-Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems. His Ph.D. thesis won the 2013 Georges Giralt PhD Award for the best Robotics PhD thesis in Europe in 2012.
The ERC Starting Grants are awarded to the best and most creative scientists from all conceivable research areas throughout Europe. They mainly target researchers with two to seven years of experience in a postdoctorate. The grant is worth 1.5 million euros for a five-year programme.